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Solar energy, debt collectors, job fraud: Your Weekly ScamWatch

April 10, 2011 |  5:21 am

Here is a roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.

Solar energy—Consumers looking to make their homes more eco-friendly should be
careful when dealing with solar-energy contractors who promise to reduce costs through rebates, the Better Business Bureau suggested in a recent consumer alert. Some installers have duped  unsuspecting customers by saying rebates will cover most or all of the expense, when they actually won't, the BBB said.

Investment fraud—A federal jury in Houston has convicted the co-founder of an investment company on charges of mail fraud, money laundering, securities fraud and conspiracy charges for his role in a scheme that defrauded more than 800 victims of about $100 million. Christian Allmendinger, 39, of Houston was accused of defrauding investors in A&O Resource Management by failing to disclose the risky nature of his investments and using investor money to support a lavish lifestyle, including a $2 million home, a Lamborghini sports car and a 15-carat diamond ring, prosecutors said.

Job scam – A Santa Barbara County man has been sentenced to six years in prison for defrauding job seekers by getting them to pay for bogus training programs for bartending and mystery shopper jobs. Stevan P. Todorovic was convicted in 2010 of seven counts of wire fraud and three counts of mail fraud for making false promises to people who paid for help getting jobs. Evidence at the trial showed that about 87,000 victims lost more than $6 million in the scam.

Debt collectors – Consumers should be leery of people who pose as debt collectors but are actually seeking personal information that could be used to steal your identity, the BBB said in a recent bulletin. To avoid being scammed, consumers should request written proof of the debt and verify the debt collector’s legitimacy by calling the telephone number listed on the company’s Web site, the BBB said.

--Stuart Pfeifer